Categories: Stray Cats

Beautiful Himalayan Stray Cat Lost Her Beauty to Ear Tipping

In case you don’t know, ear tipping is cutting off the tip of the left ear of a stray or feral cat to signify that the cat is stray or feral and that the cat has been neutered and possible vaccinated etcetera. Sometimes the ear is notched. It is a very visible marker. It brands a cat. It brands the cat for life so even if the cat becomes domesticated in a great home he/she is was still a feral cat once.

We have a story from a visitor, Roberta. Here it is (she refers to ear tipping which was carried out carelessly):

“It’s because too many humans are freaking HEARTLESS !!!! The same breed of human may easily not want to adopt a cat with an ear chunk gone. CHUNK, not tip. I’ve read “tattoos can’t be seen.” What, is the human blind?? If we can see a jail tatt on an inmate, we can see a tattoo on a kitty’s ear. Most of the populace don’t even know what the ear tip,-ear Chunk means! I paid for a stray cat to be fixed, logged her in as a scared STRAY and she still got ear chunked. Beautiful Himalayan. It just makes me SICK. How’d people like to have parts of them lobbed off?? Now I know if I want to rescue a stray I’ll just tame the dang cat myself and take him/her to my vet and adopt the cat out like I used to.”

She says that there was no need to cut a chunk off the ear of a beautiful cat under these circumstances. There is a better solution such as a tattoo on the inside of the ear. She regrets taking her to a rescue who she would say “objectified” the cat by which I mean treated the cat as an object rather than a beautiful living creature.

Also if her beauty had been retained she’d be more adoptable. Okay, removing the tip of one ear is not the end of the world and she’s still attractive, no doubt. But from a purely aesthetic point of view and from the standpoint of some cat owners she is less attractive and the ear tipping may result in her being rejected for adoption by some.

Ear tipping is important for feral cats but there needs to be care and consideration by shelter staff when deciding to do the operation. If a cat can avoid being branded a stray cat, which carries certain connotations, so much the better.

Dee provides her response to Roberta’s comment:

“I understand your frustration, Roberta. I work, mostly, with colony cats and they must be ear tipped for their own safety. Granted, some ear tipping is more severe than I think it should be.

Stray cats, generally, don’t need taming. It’s ferals that require that sort of work. It’s hard to domesticate ferals, as you may already know. And, there are time frames as well as short windows of opportunity.

If the beautiful Himalayan was, merely, a stray that you were going to bring inside or try to rehome, ear tipping could have been deleted if you asked the TNR group to do so. I don’t know of any that wouldn’t consent.

But, of course, they would want evidence that the cat was inside your home and they would be able to tell if she was feral or not.

Again, tipping is a safety measure so that all animal service groups know that the cat is a part of a TNR program and protected.”

At the very least, when ear tipping is carried out it should be done with respect for the cat with the minimum amount of ear flap removed consistent with the ear tipping being noticeable and it should be avoided if possible. These are my thoughts.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

View Comments

  • Eartipping has to be noticeable so animal control can visibly see and knows not to trap or use a dreaded catch pole to take those cats to a kill shelter.

    We can't think in terms of domesticated indoor only cats whereby tipping would be inappropriate. But, if anyone allows their domesticated cat to go outside, it may be a good idea. Why would anyone care about aesthetics if they aren't adopting out the cat? No one would want to go to a kill shelter in search of their cat only to find that their cat was killed within hours of being trapped.

    Yes, some tipping is more severe than others. But, unless someone has the intent of keeping or adopting out a cat, eartipping is pretty necessary. It doesn't devalue any community cat that will live out his life in the wild. It protects.

  • I have rescued many cats. Some are feral, with a small percentage who are very feral. Where I live, it's not safe for cats. Three of my ferals are totally deaf. When I managed to get them inside, I took them to my vet for spay, neuter, blood tests, chips and a tiny tip off the ear. They will remain inside for the rest of their lives, but in case they manage to get out, I wanted them chipped and tipped in case someone trapped them. I also have been given a very feral kitty. She was spayed and chipped, but not tipped. It will take a long time for her to accept that she must remain inside. I'm allowing her to take her own sweet time. There is NO reason to remove a chunk of an ear. A small tip is easily seen. I always recommend to people who ask, that they ask the vet how much he or she will remove. If the person doesn't like the answer, call around to fine a compassionate vet.

  • Up until I worked at a shelter a few years ago, I hadn't heard of "ear tipping". How would people know about this? I wonder how much of the general public is aware of it.

    I wish there was another way to distinguish a spayed feral cat, but a tattoo may not be seen from a distance, and will mar the beauty of the cat as well.

    Nowadays, we see so many animals outfitted with prosthetics that enable them to walk without their own legs. What surprises me is that many of these animals have been found close to death from abuse.

    These animals are subjected to many expensive surgeries to enable them to live. My own feeling may seem heartless, but I would euthanize them, and use those limited funds to help so many other animals in need of care.

    Maybe when these severe cases are helped, and publicized, it brings more funding in to the organization.

    As for feral ear tipping, usually with TnR the cat is released back to it's colony, rather than kept in a shelter for adoption. Ferals aren't good candidates for that. Strays are a different matter, and ear tipping isn't necessary.

    Some shelter staff may not pay attention to details on specific cats, because of being over burdened with so many.
    This is a sad situation, and I understand Roberta's upset.

    She has learned as we all do, that sometimes lying is useful in protecting oneself or an animal. Most of us don't expect accidents or mistakes from professionals, but it happens all the time with animals taken to vets, who end up dead from ineffective treatment.

    One woman on Cat Centric told of her cat seeing 6 vets, including 3 specialists over a period of two months who took blood, and many many tests, but were unable to diagnose the problem until after the cat died, and they observed the results of the very last test. She's now left with thousands of dollars in debt, and her beloved cat is dead.

    I advised her early on to call Dr. Lisa Pierson, who was living in her area of Los Angeles, and is a well know vet and pet rescuer, who also offers phone consultations. She has saved the lives of many cats who were dying. She is my idea of a vet who represents the true ideals of what we hope for, yet rarely see. I will continue to advise guardians faced with ongoing treatment of their pets, with no diagnosis, to give her a call. I think she charges $100 hr, but it could save thousands, and also your pet's life.

    Her website can be seen by searching her name.

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